Sunday, June 24, 2007

Khuda Ke Liye - In The Name of God [Official Website] Teaser Added

Official Website:

The long awaited movie Khuda Ke Liye - In the Name of God a movie by Shoaib Mansoor is finally heading towards release.

The film is about the difficult situation in which the Pakistanis in particular and the Muslims in general are caught up since 9/11. There is a war going on between the Fundamentalists and the Liberal Muslims. This situation is creating a drift not only between the Western world and the Muslims, but also within the Muslims. The educated and modern Muslims are in a difficult situation because of their approach towards life and their western attire. They are criticized and harassed by the fundamentalists and on the other hand the Western world sees them as potential suspects of terrorism just because of their Muslim names.

This paradox is resulting in great suffering for a forward looking Muslim. Above mentioned is the theme of the film "Khuda Ke Liye. The interesting thing about the film is how it connects the happenings in the three continents. Unlike the usual Indian and Pakistani films based on romantic saga, dances and songs, this film is based on some very serious issues, raising a lot of controversial questions boggling the Muslim minds these days. It helps the Muslim youth to find a direction— the right direction, which we are all looking forward to.

-Muzik Pakistan

Download Video: Kaavish on Aag TV's 'VJ Mix with Celebrity"

VJ Mix with Celebrity AAG Tv Part 1 :DOWNLOAD:
VJ Mix with Celebrity AAG Tv Part 2 :
VJ Mix with Celebrity AAG Tv Part 3 :
VJ Mix with Celebrity AAG Tv Part 4 :
VJ Mix with Celebrity AAG Tv Part 5 :
VJ Mix with Celebrity AAG Tv Part 6 :
VJ Mix with Celebrity AAG Tv Part 7 :

-Muzik Pakistan

Latest Interview: Karavan - Global Ambition with fifth album release

Global ambition

By Fariha Rashed

August marks the release of Karachi-based Karavan’s long-awaited new album that comes after an extended gap. The year 2007 is also one in which Assad Ahmed (former Awaz member and guitarist) and Tanseer Daar (vocalist) complete a decade as a mainstream band. Currently recording the yet unnamed album at Assad’s studio, they have done three songs with another seven to go. It is the fourth studio and fifth overall album by the band.

“It’s not going to be a small affair because with it we also celebrate 10 years in the music industry. The feel to the new album will be different this time with more mature songwriting and heavy in all the right places. The stuff we have been working is miles ahead of what we had been doing in the past,” says Assad.

However, lyrically speaking, Tanseer doesn’t feel it is much different from their first four albums. “This time the songs are by Adnan Ahmed. He used to write for us before and the album Safar was by him. He co-wrote Gardish with Sajid Zafar and this time Anees Ahmed is doing two or three songs as well besides Adnan. We sit down with them and sense the direction of the songs they have written. If we leave them on their own, it gets complicated for us as performers because they use a lot of heavy words. This time there will be easier words and beats,” he explains.

One thing that Assad says they have learnt over the years is “when you write a song that connects with people on any level it’s great because it will always take them back to the moment when they first heard it. This time we have all the ingredients to make a great Karavan album. I think that if Gardish was the bar that we were measured by, we’ve managed to raise that bar this time.”

“People mostly go to India to become famous but we are beyond that. We want to go there and look at India as another territory to play in. We don’t care about record sales. Pakistan may be home, but you can’t stay here for the rest of your life,” says Karavan guitarist Assad Ahmed

There is an element of motivation in one of the songs on the new album, called Sara Jahan. There is also one called Kaise Mumkin Hai, which is something the band has never done before. According to Assad, it is one of those songs that take you away to a far-off place. “We try to do what we do best and evolve within that frame.

“People are now listening more with their eyes than their ears. With all the TV channels coming up, now people only know you for the videos you come out with. So if you have an album out and you’ve done a video, they only know you through that one song. This is apart from your hardcore fan base of course,” he ****.

Tanseer feels that his vocals have kept on changing through time, “Usually, it occurs naturally. It’s the fans and band mates that make you conscious of the change. Your voice is not an instrument that you practice with and it gets better. Also, we are not from a family that supports careers in music. As a result, in an environment where you have no support, it is quite difficult to improve oneself,” says the lead vocalist.

Assad **** that if you stop evolving as a singer, bassist or a musician, it’s all over. “Just hang up your instrument and say thank you very much, it’s been a good ride and good night — Elvis has basically left the building. I remember when Tanseer first joined the band; I thought to myself ‘what are we going to do’? This guy can’t even sing. I told him to lock himself in a room and practice. In those eight months, on a scale from one to 10, this guy went up to at least 7.5. It’s all about applying himself.”

For the future, Karavan plans to come out with videos that are both cost-effective and creative. Assad explains that they picked out art students from the Indus Valley School in Karachi and asked some young students to come up with interesting concepts. “It’s about promoting young talent. We got in touch with a few people, Aman Ahmed being one of them. I’m not a big fan when it comes to making videos because I come from a generation that thinks radio gives artistes a break whereas television is just a marketing tool. However, you have to have good videos and for this album we’ll pretty much do the same. We might spend more money on them and have them done on film rather than video format.”

The band also plans to go to India with the new album this time. “People mostly go to India to become famous but we are beyond that. We want to go there and look at India as another territory to play in. We don’t care about record sales. Pakistan may be home, but you can’t stay here for the rest of your life,” points out the Karavan guitarist.

All of Assad and Tanseer’s attention is on the new album right now that will not just be released in Pakistan this year, but worldwide. “Most people want to go to the East but I believe our place is in the West. Desis and Asians, in general, are tuned in to rock music as much as the white man. I want to bridge the gap between us and the white man through this album. Hence, there are two English songs on the album which will be released there, not here” says Assad Ahmed sounding off.


-Muzik Pakistan

Josh recently shot 4th video 'Rock Your World' in Montreal

After shooting three back-to-back videos in the subcontinent, Josh recently shot their fourth video of Rock Your World from their album Mausam in Montreal. The video is directed by Yves Banchongphanith.

Says Q: “The video is a story that follows the theme of the song. The song is about being in the limelight and how it gets you noticed, which is fun and all, but at the same time most people are intimidated and don’t come up to you even when they would like to. Same is the case with women. The video shows us going about our business, noticing some pretty girls who notice us as well, but we’re not able to really talk to them as we’re interrupted by fans who want to talk to us.”

Some of the band’s recent videos shot in Mumbai and Karachi have a somewhat desi touch to them. So what about this one? “It takes us back to a more fun vibe, with us dancing along with the people around us, having fun, and living it up,” **** Q. Musically, the track is a fusion between a modern hip-hop vibe mixed with Punjabi rhythms. It starts off in English, and then the Punjabi kicks in, and then some reggae courtesy JoJoe. It is also the only English song on the album.

“The teasers should start in a couple of weeks, and following the weeks after that you will see the video on air,” informs Q. — Shahzeb Sheikh


-Muzik Pakistan

Mussarat Abbas singing 'Mann Ki Lagan' on Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge


IMIK's Piya song copied by Indian Anurag Basu

ORIGINAL Piya by Imik

COPIED teri yaadein by Anurag Basu


Monday, June 18, 2007

Vital Signs Rohail Hayatt mastering Ali Haider's album Jaane Do

Speaking of music, news has just reached us that Ali Haider is back with a brand new video, a new look and an album called Jaane Do all set to release sometime soon.

More on the upcoming album is that it is in the final stages with none other that former Vital Signs heartthrob Rohail Hayatt mastering it. Shahi, Faraz Anwar, Rohail Hayatt, Faizi (of Suroor), Ali Khan (of Saathiya fame), Amaan and veteran Anwar Maqsood all are involved in one way or the other with the album as their names are included in the credits.

But for now our boy Ali is completing post-production work on Jaane Do, getting it released in India first. For more check out launched last Sunday.

Watch Kaavish on AAG TV


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Latest Interview : Josh - Stranger in our midst

Stranger in our midst

By Faiza Khan

The three-albums-old Josh’s latest offering, a music video titled Ajnabi that is currently on air on all music channels local and international, is akin to a restless soul — seeking, searching, running away and breaking free. The first shot sets the mood of the song and the video directed by the young and promising Umar Anwar. It is nothing short of a scream of anguish and angst against societal norms with superficial walls erected to uphold illogical traditions and the arrestment of thinking and self-actualisation through programmed education and conditioned behavior.

“We were challenged to truly act out and show our emotions. The Ajnabi video is an abstract piece of work; a metaphoric depiction of what the song means to both Qurram (Q) and I,” explains Rupinder Singh. “As people, there are times that we can be so lost in life that we are strangers to ourselves, as the line in the song goes: ‘mere dil se main ajnabi …’

“The journey of finding oneself and fighting societal norms is never easy. In the video, you’ll see Q breaking a guitar, but it’s in reverse, so he’s actually bringing a broken guitar back to life. You’ll see me attached to a desk — implying how we are programmed to go to school and study to become things that we might not want to. It wasn’t easy for us to become artistes when our friends were becoming doctors, businessmen, lawyers, etc. In the video, there is a girl who is forced to get married, and rips up her favorite picture, which is of a butterfly — symbolising the loss of her freedom. I can probably keep talking for hours about it,” says Rup excitedly.

Defying a robotic existence, the subjugation of the soul and the suppression of emotions, Ajnabi is a combination of symbolic analogies, terse angles and shots and editing glitches that betray the waging conflicts within. ZQ plays the sacrificial lamb offered at the altar of family traditions, Rup is tied down to a career chosen for him and Q surrenders his passion for arts in the face of social stigma. However, the owl on Q’s arm has its own context value.

Defying a robotic existence, the subjugation of the soul and the suppression of emotions, Josh’s ‘Ajnabi’ video directed by Umar Anwar is a combination of symbolic analogies, terse angles and shots and editing glitches that betray the waging conflicts within. ZQ plays the sacrificial lamb offered at the altar of family traditions, Rup is tied down to a career chosen for him and Q surrenders his passion for arts in the face of social stigma. However, the owl on Q’s arm has its own context value

“The song is about breaking the norms of society. The bird is a symbol of freedom as it is not caged in the video. It also shows that we can relate to animals when it comes to instincts as they are only ruled by instincts and not by society’s rules.”

Earlier, Josh’s Mausam video was more Umar Anwar-style with its long shots and scenic backdrops. What convinced Josh that Umar would do justice to the edgier Ajnabi? “Umar and Josh work well together. We understand each other’s points of view and respect each other’s art forms. I think it is important to realise and give space to the other person when space is due. He’s also a great guy to hang out with, a key point for us to work with anyone. Friendship first, work second,” they said.

So, was the video visually translated as the concept of the song conceived or was it a hybrid of ideas? “The idea on which the song was written was very specific and very elaborate. We did evolve the idea with Umar, keeping all the major themes of the inspiration behind the song in mind. Along with that, we always like to keep the videos a little open to interpretation, giving them more room to convey ideas the viewers can relate to.”

With a huge fan following on both sides of the border, Josh has been up-close and personal with the Pakistani and Indian music scene, observing professionalism/work ethics. The disparities are evident. “The Indian scene is much older, so there is a lot more structure there — whether it has to do with record companies, or any other media or press. It will come to Pakistan as well; it’s just not here yet. However, you can tell from the quality of work that Pakistan is working on catching up to international standards,” say the band members.

True to their love for fusion, Rup and Q seem interested to mingle with the local artistes and are keeping their eyes open for new opportunities. “Collaborations, for us, have always been something that would come up naturally. So far, we have made close friends with Strings, Shafqat bhai and others, so let’s see what comes up in the future. Hopefully, we’ll get a chance to jam with them and some good ideas will come out.”

Winding up, I had to ask: Are there any other music videos in the pipeline and would Josh be taking on Umar again? “Our next video is for a track called Rock your World which we’re shooting in Montreal, Canada. After that, we’re not sure yet. Umar has a style of shooting videos and it has matched our songs we did with him very well. Depending on if the next song is a good match for Umar and Pakistan; we’ll make that decision accordingly. There will be more videos coming out soon though, that’s for sure. So keep watching, as we do have a lot of ideas that need to be put out visually.”


Strings - Hotsteppers of the week!

To say that Strings are the ultimate role model for the new breed of musicians, as well as their contemporaries, would not be an overstatement. Even without an album out in four years, this is a band that has managed to keep its name alive and kicking. Media savvy, stylish and most importantly, evolving musicians – all these traits make them this week's Hotsteppers for Instep. And right now, they are once again climbing charts here as well as across the border with their fantastic new single, 'Aakhri Alvida' for the film, Shootout at Lokhandwala. And this is a big film to score. It features Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjay Dutt, Abhishek Bachchan, Vivek Oberoi, Suniel Shetty, Arbaaz Khan, Tusshar Kapoor and Indian soap opera men, Shabbir Ahluwalia and Rohit Roy in pivotal roles. The fact that Sanjay Gupta approached them a second time around for a soundtrack just goes to show what an impact our impeccably dressed and well spoken lads made. What makes Strings such an example is perhaps their understanding of being 'distinct'. For those of you who have seen their new video, it is clear that theirs is not a video that has movie stills thrown in for good measure. These guys actually shot the video on the sets of Shootout at Lokhandwala. While speaking to Instep, Faisal Kapadia revealed that once a final take of a certain scene was shot, it was redone again just to accommodate Strings. Now that's what we call star power.

And this was not the first time that cool dudes Faisal Kapadia and Bilal Maqsood teamed up with producer/director Sanjay Gupta and Munnabhai Sanjay Dutt. It was with 'Zinda Hoon' for another Gupta-Dutt film that they first began their game in Bollywood. Even in that video, Strings got Sanjay Dutt and John Abraham to star in it. No other band in Pakistan has ever been able to do that. Our fascination and love for Bollywood makes Sanjay Dutt a household name. And when he's in a video and that of a Pakistani band, it gets noticed! Over the years, the only criticism drawn on Strings is their ability to perform live. But in the last year and a half, Strings have really turned its act around. Right now, they are one of the most rocking live acts in the country. For this reason that they have picked up their first nomination for Best Live Act at the Lux Style Awards this year.

Many critics argue that Dhaani cannot match the brilliance of Duur. But what makes Dhaani a wonderful album is its long-lasting value. Even an average Strings song is good especially when compared to the plethora of pop/rock outfits that the music industry seems to be churning out regularly.

India is the next step for any band that wants a wider audience. But not once have Strings compromised on their musical aesthetics for Bollywood. Be it 'Aakhri Alvida', 'Zinda Hoon' or 'Najaney Kyun', Strings have steered clear from letting their songs get distorted for a film. And it this reason that their songs standout in Bollywood where every second song sounds similar.

Ultimately, musicians like them who are a ray of hope for this India crazy music industry. Strings will come out with their fifth studio album this year. It will not disappoint. The music they're making now is classic, and so are they!


Interview: Abbas Ali Khan speaks out on why we haven't seen much of him

"Initially, every artist needs to be placed at the right shows.

In my case, my management company failed to place me anywhere."

– Abbas Ali Khan speaks out on why we haven't seen much of him.

With the music industry of Pakistan slowly and steadily spawning various styles and genres, artistes like Abbas Ali Khan have a chance to heard and appreciated. There is a definite market for them, but unfortunately, the music industry hasn't wisened up as to how to market talent. Abbas Ali Khan had felt that heat. Yet, he has made an impact. The videos of 'Sun Re' and 'Malal' still continue to be aired because of their superior quality. The album has sold, but even so, Abbas Ali Khan still hasn't done rounds of the music circuit. Yet he keeps chalking up achievements.

Abbas Ali Khan has been nominated in the Best Album Category for Sun Re in the Lux Style Awards. He's working on a show called Meet the Stars that features Bollywood divas like Bipasha Basu and Priyanka Chopra and he has a new album coming out shortly. He speaks with Instep about being shortchanged and yet making the best of his situation. You definitely cannot keep a good musician down!

By Maria Tirmizi

Instep: You have been nominated for the Best Album category in the Lux Style Awards. How does it feel?

Abbas Ali Khan: Getting nominated for any award is always very exciting as one gets a feeling that his work is being noticed and appreciated.

Instep: You're nominated with Atif Aslam's Doorie and Ali Zafar's Masty. What do you think your chances are of winning?

Abbas: I really don't know how these awards work, i.e., if it's a viewers' choice award or if there is any jury behind it. If it's totally viewers' choice, then I'm sure this battle is between Atif Aslam and Ali Zafar. But if it's based on a jury, which includes musicians and critics or even someone who understands what 'sur' and 'taal' is, then I guess I have a chance. I'm not saying that Ali and Atif's music is bad. I like their songs and often listen to them. I'm just saying that they target a very different audience, or should I say masses, whereas my music is targeted towards more mature music listeners.

Instep: Keeping in mind that your music is quite different than, say Sajid and Zeeshan's One Light Year at Snail Speed, also nominated in the same category, what do you feel about different styles of music lumped together in the same category for an award?

Abbas: Yeah exactly. It's totally unfair. I should have been in a separate category but along with Sajid and Zeeshan and Arieb Azhar. Though our music styles are different, what we have in common between us is the fact that we are all targeting mature music listeners. I believe it should have been something like a category for Best Commercial Album and Best Alternative Album. By alternative I'm not referring to the genre of music but an album, which is different from what's going on in the mainstream.

Instep: How do you think your album Sun Re was received in the market?

Abbas: Whoever listened to it, loved it. Despite the miserable promotion for the album, it did very well. It had something for everybody. Sun Re was a compilation of different genres that I have been inspired with while growing up.

Instep: Are you satisfied with the way Indispensable Communications marketed your album?

Abbas: 'Market' is not an appropriate word because whenever you market something, you promote it too. But in my case, it did not happen. So I would say they just released it. Would anyone be satisfied if they make a good product and just because of the bad promotion, it doesn't sell the way it should have? Plus, despite the promises of an international release, they failed to even take me to India, whereas so many upcoming bands are doing so much over there. But I would say that the distribution, if not great, wasn't that bad. I didn't have any problems with the availability of the album.

Instep: Your videos seem to have a big budget, larger-than-life feel to them and arealways well received. But you've had very few concerts. Why is that?

Abbas: My videos don't have a big budget. They are just executed very creatively and the credit goes to my director Shehryar Hydri and Omair Hyder and to myself for postproduction--in short Mystic Media. We spend a lot of time on video colouring and visual effects. We make sure the lighting is right. That's why we take at least a month to work on one music video.

About the concerts, it's true that I haven't been performing much. The dynamics of concerts and public appearance is a totally different ball game. This is where your management company steps in. Initially, every artist needs to be placed at the right shows. In my case, my management company failed to place me anywhere. They should have arranged promotional concerts throughout the city so that the people could see me on stage, but that never happened unfortunately. I have gotten offers from US too but they want to give peanuts and I'm not selling my self short. I believe in the fact that if you want me, you gotta pay the price. Otherwise, I'm not dying to perform for nothing.

Instep: How was it like working with Tariq Amin? Are there any plans to work with him in future as well?

Abbas: Tariq Amin is a gem and an amazing stylist. I would love to work with him in the future, especially when it comes to wild, crazy, innovative concepts such as 'Malal' (the video).

Instep: You have a Special Edition Album out. Why did you feel the need to do that?

Abbas: Well, since I had the remix for 'Malal' and 'Teri Yaad', I thought why not release it with a different cover and call it Special Edition instead of just putting a sticker on saying bonus tracks. If you notice, the new cover has a lot of photos from my videos as well as my biography up till now. So I thought that would be an added attraction for the listeners apart from the new songs.

Instep: What is your involvement with Mystic Media?

Abbas: I own Mystic Media along with my partner Omair Hyder. I take care of all the animation and graphics section and Omair takes care of the production and direction.

Instep: You remixed 'Malal' yourself and also co-directed the video. Are you also an
aspiring DJ and music video director?

Abbas: DJ as in live mixing and all? No I'm not really good at it, but yes I'm into music production. Right now I'm working on a song with Annie (Princess) which is quite different from the stuff that she is into. Though I don't get involved with the direction on set for music videos but I have a lot of involvement in the preproduction and concept development for my own videos and for videos that Mystic Media produces. But I would love to direct videos in future as well.

Instep: Are you working on anything right now?

Abbas: I have just done a title song (lyrics, composition, music and vocals) for an upcoming show called Meet Your Stars with Bobby Khan Holdings, which is an India/UK based company.This program will be on air soon and includes Indian film celebrities such as Priyanka Chopra, Yana Gupta, Katrina Kaif, Bipasha Basu, Vivek Oberoi and Arjun Rampal. We plan to make a music video for this song soon which will be directed by Bobby Khan, who has over 350 Indian music videos to his credit, along with events such as Zee Cine Awards '98, Screen Videocon Awards '98, Sansui Awards '98, Zee Cine Awards 2002

Instep: Do you plan to start work on a next album anytime soon?

Abbas: I have already started work on the next album which I plan to release by the end of this year or maybe sooner.

Instep: On a lighter note, how do you look back at yourself dressed up as a hip hop star with the fur coat and all that 'bling-bling' for 'Sun Re'?

Abbas: I left my styling for this video totally on Tariq Amin. I said yes to whatever he said because this was the first video in which I was actually getting styling done. I had something totally different on my mind when I went to Tariq. I wanted to come on screen as I really am with some semi-formal outfit and that's it. But Tariq wanted to do something totally over-the-top. So I said okay, let's go for it. When I look back at it, I don't regret anything. In fact, I believe that apart from the song, my styling was another thing that really got noticed, though it got some mixed reactions. (Laughs)

Interview: "Pakistan has the best rock scene in the world" - Mark LeVine

Looking for heavy metal in the Muslim world

From an author, linguist (of seven languages including Arabic and Persian), historian, journalist, musician and professor (of Middle Eastern history/culture, and Islamic studies - at the University of California-Irvine), Mark LeVine visited Pakistan recently, this year.

For research purposes regarding contemporary, Pakistani music and its significance on the general public (for his latest book, Heavy Metal Islam: Rock, Religion and Resistance Among Islam's Generation Next), LeVine had extremely insightful views and observations concerning Pakistan's current music set-up. In an interview with Instep, Mark shared his experiences and candid sentiments about contemporary music and it precarious status in the Muslim world.

By Sonya Rehman

Instep: Could you elaborate on what the basis for your research was on?

ML: My main reason was to understand the development of popular music and its relationship to the rest of society in Pakistan, especially heavy metal and other forms of hard rock.

One of my main areas of research is the conflicts that often occur between rock/metal musicians and conservative religious forces. In Pakistan this is a key issue, as conservatives (or radicals, as the case may be) have threatened to attack, and in some cases carried out attacks on stores that sell popular music, or venues that allow live music, etc. So I wanted to see how Pakistani musicians were coping with the situation and what could be done to help them.

Instep: What prompted you to get involved in a project such as this one?

ML: For me, music, especially seemingly marginalized music in the Middle East/Muslim world like heavy-metal or rap is actually a great prism to understand the larger dynamics of oppression, censorship, authoritarianism, etc. in society. 'Metal-heads' to me are a canary in the coal mine for testing the level of democracy and a functioning public sphere more broadly.

As goes heavy metal, so goes Pakistan, one could say. What I found, was extremely complex, confusing, paradoxical and ultimately hopeful. Yes, the Salafis are attacking artists and purveyors of popular culture/music - but at the same time, the vast majority of Pakistani's love popular culture and love their rock n' roll. I mean, in Pakistan there are almost a dozen music video channels and the music scene in terms of quality and originality is the best in the Muslim world, as far as I'm concerned.

Instep: Which Pakistani musicians did wind up meeting on your trip here, and what were their personal sentiments regarding this issue?

ML: I met Mekaal Hasan, Haroon, Arieb Azhar, Ali Rooh, Mizraab, Aaroh, Karavan, Akash, a few underground metal bands, and of course Salman Ahmed, who was a big help.

Basically, most of them don't want to be directly involved in politics these days because while they don't like the present government much, they feel it has at least allowed a flowering of popular music – which stands in sharp contrast to what the Salafis want to do.

Also, as many mentioned, it's not like the so-called democratically elected governments of Bhutto and Sharrif were any less corrupt or violent or oppressive than the present.

In fact, from a musician's perspective, Musharraf is better. What this shows me is that Musharraf's strategy of giving artists more room to work has been quite smart because now they have a stake in the system. So now it seems the government is not a major issue.

The main threat is the Salafis. Also important is that the music industry in Pakistan is so DYI. With the increasingly inexpensive recording technologies at peoples' disposal, any band can record a CD-quality demo, do a video for a couple of thousand dollars, send it to the local music channels, and if it clicks, they're famous.

This really changes the environment regarding censorship-related issues.

Instep: That's true, in Pakistan the music scene is very DYI – what's it like for Western artistes abroad though? What do foreign musicians need to do to 'get famous'?

ML: You know, I don't work with Western artistes anymore except through the world music artistes I work with. I think in terms of the recording technologies, yes, the same thing is happening - and it's amazing and represents a real democratization of the music industry.

But the difference is with the videos. It still costs a lot more in terms of labour to shoot a video…and then the idea of just sending your video to a music channel unsolicited, and knowing it'll be aired - seems a bit far-fetched. But that's the way it works in Pakistan.

Instep: Okay so honestly, what did you think of our country's music scenario?

ML: Well, there's certainly some cheesy pop music, but no worse than the Arab world or Iran. I think in terms of rock - not metal specifically, but rock and hard rock, Pakistan's is by far the best scene in the world right now to my ears, because it is so hybrid, it so effortlessly blends together the best of the rock tradition and of local Pakistani styles. From qawwali to classical Indian, and to tribal music. And bands in Pakistan even sing metal in Urdu, which is unheard of in the Arab world!

Instep: From your travels for research purposes, have you ever happened to encounter any band/musician that is a 'worst case' example of oppression in the Muslim world?

ML: I haven't met any musicians who've been killed or tortured in jail, although I'm certainly aware of people to whom this has happened. I guess Iran has been the worst, in that most every Metal-head I met (who had long hair) told me stories of being beaten, arrested and the like by police or Revolutionary Guards ('Basij') just for walking down the street with long hair.
In Egypt and Morocco I know many musicians who were arrested, and perhaps roughed up a bit, and in Lebanon I've met musicians who were brought in for questioning by the police because they were into metal music.

Instep: How can orthodox religion and heavy metal/rock reach a 'settlement' in your opinion?

ML: Well, probably 'orthodox' religion can't come to terms with metal, just as it can't come to terms with anything else besides its own interpretation of its religious tradition. That's the same for Christianity or Judaism or Hinduism, as for Islam.

But the reality is that all religions are very complex and diverse. That's why there is Christian metal, Islamic Hip-hop, etc. In terms of metal in the Middle East, the reality is that the Salafi types will never accept it unless they can use it as a tool for propaganda - in other words, if some metal kids wrote a death metal song supporting Al-Qaeda or something. But a whole new generation of Islamists has emerged that is much more culturally open and less concerned about policing people's musical habits than they are about fighting authoritarian regimes. Not to mention that many musicians are themselves religious, and, as one Egyptian Metal-head described it to me with a laugh, will "go to Juma prayers on Friday and then go play black metal for four hours", with his band.

As one young leader of the Muslim Brotherhood said to me when I asked him if one could be a good Muslim and a good Metal-head, he said: "We want to confront the regime - not to impose Shariah or wage jihad against the West or Israel - but to bring real democracy and social justice to Egypt and the region as a whole." He then continued, "Here's the thing I know: If I fight just for myself and my rights, then I'll never get them. Only if and when I'm ready to fight for everyone's rights can I hope to have my full rights as a religious Muslim in Egypt."

This is a radically different approach to politics than has traditionally existed among Islamists in the Muslim world, who haven't been too interested in the rights of other oppressed groups in their societies, particularly those that don't follow their conservative views on religion and morality. It's also an invitation to dialog which many secularists, especially artists, have been slow to accept. But that's a dangerous strategy because sooner or later authoritarian governments always go after artists, and they'll need all the allies they can get.

"I think in terms of rock - not metal specifically, but rock and hard rock, Pakistan's is by far the best scene in the world right now to my ears, because it is so hybrid, it so effortlessly blends together the best of the rock tradition and of local Pakistani styles. From qawwali to classical Indian, and to tribal music. And bands in Pakistan even sing metal in Urdu, which is unheard of in the Arab world!" - Mark LeVine


Friday, June 15, 2007

Faraz Haider and Haider Azim - Simple Life

Desi Blast 2007 concert in Chicago


Click Image for larger version


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Atif Aslam Live London Concert


Sunday, June 10, 2007

Junoon Live in Concert With Noori and Zameer July 13 In Toronto

Friday, June 8, 2007

Video : Anjaana, Live and Unplugged by INTEHA

Exclusive video of the band INTEHA performing Anjaana Live


Supreme Court orders Abrar to omit "Parveen" from song

The Supreme Court on Monday directed pop singer Abrarul Haq to omit the name ‘Parveen’ from his song ‘Parveen tu Bari Namkeen’ and not use such names in his lyrics in future. He was ordered to present an amended version of the song before the court within two weeks. Acting Chief Justice Javed Iqbal and Justice Sardar Raza Khan issued these directives while conducting suo moto proceedings initiated after a letter written by a girl named Parveen was published in the press. Dr Khalid Ranjha, counsel for the defence, argued the name used in the lyrics is ‘Permeen’ and not ‘Parveen’. However, he said his client would omit even this reference. After hearing, Abrar said the letter had proved fictitious. He said the principal of the college had issued a certificate testifying that there was no student named Parveen at his institution.


Ali Azmat's interview on new album Kalashionfolk

To Download the In-Depth Insider Ali Azmat 50 Minutes Interview, click Here !

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Mekaal Hasan Band: DVD & music video

The Mekaal Hasan band is set to release a first ever full concert DVD. Titled Live at the Bahria Auditorium and courtesy ARY, the DVD depicts their older style of performing. According to Mekaal Hasan Band, the performance in the DVD is from 2005 and there have been slight changes in the line-up since then.

Another upcoming release from the band would be a video directed by Peshawar-based director, Zeeshan Parwez, on the MHB song, Hunsdun. According to Zeeeshan, the bits where the band makes an appearance were shot in Lahore last year. The concept of the video is focused around the Aghan refugees settled in the Northern Areas and their official repatriation which was supposed to have taken place sometime in 2005.

Shot in the tribal areas in the Khyber Agency with some of the footage from Bajaur, the video focuses around three Afghan friends who embark on their journey home. Coming up with the concept himself, Zeeshan says that the footage is very happy-go-lucky and goes with the overall theme of the song. The video is expected to be released on the airwaves shortly.


Akash`s Debut Album "AKS" : Download

The Album: Akash's debut album titled "Aks" is exactly what the name suggests. A reflection of what the band represents. Their album comprises of a mixture of songs from soul to rock to elements of eastern classical. It is a combination of what every member of the band is about; they've all come together to add to the unique sound that outshines any single genre.

The album consists of varying flavors of punk and semi-classical sounds coupled with a diverse variety of experimentations that can be seen scattered throughout the album. A lot of live instruments have been used in the album like Violin, Arabian Tabla, Sitar, tan Pura, Flute and Harmoniam. Akash`s sound can be attributed to the unique backgrounds and interests in a variety of genres of music of each individual in the band. Most of songs are based on Soul Rock, however the album's compositions revolve around a darker side of things. The band's main focus has been concentrated on melodies and arrangements

Click Here to Download Album Teaser


A jolt of mystical music

In the words of Allama Iqbal with vocals from various artistes from Pakistan, Apna Muqam Paida Kar is an album that is deep, complex and ultimately homage to the the sufi way of life. Instep takes a closer look…

By Sonya Rehman

Apna Muqam Paida Kar ***

Presented by National Sufi Council

The National Council for the Promotion of Sufism (NCPS) in Pakistan was established to support and promote the works of some of the greatest Sufi poets/mystics – in the aim to give the country a 'softer' image in terms of sufism, art and local cultural heritage.

The council consists of Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain (as its Chairman) and Yousaf Salahuddin (as its Vice Chairman) among other, recognized members.

Apna Muqam Paidar Kar (which translates into rise and be recognized) is an album that was released by the council, which consists of the works (kalaams) of one of the greatest poets/philosophers of the country – Sir Muhammad Iqbal (more commonly known as, Allama Iqbal).

The album, Apna Muqam Paida Kar, comprises of eight songs by artistes; Humaira Arshad, Ali Raza, Shabnam Majeed, Jawad Ahmad, Fareeha Parvez, Abrar-ul-Haq, Masuma Anwar and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan.

Released towards the end of 2006 after the album's launch ceremony at Hazoori Bagh in Lahore, the album has been produced by Iqbal's grandson, Yousaf Salahuddin (who has also composed a majority of the album' songs), Mekaal Hasan (the sound engineer) and Farhan Albert (for the album's arrangement).
The album opens with 'Lawh Bhi Tu', sung by Humaira Arshad and comes as a bit of a surprise. Reason being, Humaira manages to sound vocally steady and powerful without overbearing the song.

In 'Digargun' Ali Raza's classical vocal deliverance comes without hardly any effort, as his alaaps quiver, flow and soar quite naturally. The song is a wonderful one as its overall sound manages to sound almost nostalgic and pained somehow.

The album is one fitted for ears which tilt in appreciation of authentic, classical music, and eyes that smile upon reading pure, Sufiana poetry on love and spiritual journeys. Apna Muqam Paida Kar will not 'grow onto' the listener after a casual listening or two…it must be felt – and the listener must be familiar with Iqbal's history, works and sufism. This is not to imply that the listener should have a PhD in the subject, still, a little awareness of the subject and theme wouldn't hurt.

Shabnam Majeed's delivery of 'La Phir Ik Baar' is a treat. What a golden, canary voice the girl has. In fact once you hear her sing the first few verses, you are reminded of Lata Mangeshkar. Sings Shabnam, "My flask of poetry held the last few drops/Unlawful, says our crabb'd divine, oh Saki/Who has borne off Love's valiant sword?" And, "Verse lights up life, while heart burns bright, but fades/For ever when those rays decline, oh Saki/Bereave not of its moon my night, I see/A full moon in your goblet shine, oh Saki!"
The tracks that follow by Jawad Ahmad, Fareeha Parvez (her song's composition by Farida Khanum and Yousaf Salahuddin) and Abrar-ul-Haq, are also beautifully sung but it is Masuma Anwar who truly outshines in 'Tujhe Yaad Kya'.

Masuma's voice is captivating and words would hardly do her any justice if at all - but the throaty timber of her voice is in a league of its own, just as the way Abida Parveen enthralls her audience, so does Masuma.

She sings, "Have you forgotten then my heart of old/That college of Love, that whip that bright eyes hold?/This is a strange world, neither cage nor nest/ With no calm nook in all its spacious fold."

'Diyar-i-Ishq Mein' by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan is a classic qawwali number, which strikes a powerful, and inspiring equilibrium. Singing with the josh required for passionate qawwali songs, Rahat belts out, "My songs are the grapes on the spray of my vine/Distil from their clusters the poppy red wine/The way of the hermit, not fortune, is mine/Sell not your soul! In a beggar's rags shine!"

With guitars by Salman Albert and Sajjad Hussain, the satrangi by Khawar, flute by Muhammad Ahsan Pappoo and tablas by Baloo Khan and Babar Khanna – Apna Muqam Paida Kar is truly, a collector's item.

Pakistan's 'softer image' (so to speak), has been aided by classical music maestro's Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Abida Parveen and others (who have sung, and continue to sing traditional Sufiana verses of poetry). Their songs not only promote the arts and poetry, but also a particular ideology – a way of life, a way of the 'dervaish'…that is a simple, yet spiritually rich one.

The NCPS's album, Apna Muqam Paida Kar is an acknowledgement and tribute in honour of not only Allama Iqbal, but also in reverence to the Sufi way of life.


Monday, June 4, 2007

Usman Shani - Jaisay Jantay Nahi Video


Featuring "Kami"

Tantric - Astounded (Cover)

Dur Mujh Se (debut solo song)